previous next
θνητὰ δὲ γένη οὐκ ἦν. In the Timaeus, 42E ff., the creation of men takes place after that of gods. The lower animals in the Timaeus arise from the degeneration of the souls of men in later births, every soul being first born as man: cf. Tim. 41E with 90E ff. Here the lower animals are created simultaneously with man, for θνητὰ γένη is of course not limited to the human race.

2. Χρόνος ἦλθεν εἱμαρμένος γενέσεως. The omission of the article, as well as the whole turn of expression (ἦλθεν αὐτοῖς χρόνος), is somewhat poetic.

3. θεοὶ γῆς ἔνδον: so in Tim. 42E it is the created gods, not the δημιουργός, who make men. There, however, it is not said that human creatures were made within the earth: but compare the γενναῖον ψεῦδος of Rep. III. 414C ἦσαν δὲ (i.e. the citizens of Plato's state) τότε τῇ ἀληθείᾳ ὑπὸ γῆς ἐντὸς πλαττόμενοι. The widespread tradition of autochthonous races among the Greeks no doubt helped to produce such anthropological theories, with which compare Empedocles (ap. Ritter and Preller, Hist. Philos.7 p. 143), οὐλοφυεῖς μὲν πρῶτα τύποι χθονὸς ἐξανέτελλον; Symp. 191C ἐγέννων καὶ ἔτικτον (sc. primitive men) οὐκ εἰς ἀλλήλους ἀλλ᾽ εἰς γῆν ὥσπερ οἱ τέττιγες; and Polit. 272A ἐκ γῆς γὰρ ἀνεβιώσκοντο πάντες. It is to be noticed that Plato regularly uses ἐντός (not ἔνδον) as a preposition: ἔνδον (so used) is the more poetic word.

ἐκ γῆςκεράννυται. Cf. Tim. 42E (of the creation of man) μιμούμενοι (i.e. the created gods) τὸν σφέτερον δημιουργόν, πυρὸς καὶ γῆς ὕδατός τε καὶ ἀέπος ἀρὸ τοῦ κόσμου δανειζόμενοι μόπια ὡς ἀποδοθησόμενα πάλιν εἰς ταὐτὸν τὰ λαμβανόμενα ξυνεκόλλων. For ‘air and water’ is substituted here τῶν ὅσα πυρὶ καὶ γῇ κεράννυται. Fire is the rarest and earth the densest of the four elements: Protagoras' theory is that air and water are produced by mixing these in different proportions, for κεράννυται cannot mean merely that the elements interchange. Cf. the theory attributed by Aristotle to Parmenides: Met. I. 5. 986b. 33 δύο τὰς αἰτίας καὶ δύο τὰς ἀρχὰς πάλιν τίθησι, θερμὸν καὶ ψυχρόν, οἷον πῦρ καὶ γῆν λέγων. It is noteworthy that Plato himself regards all four elements as differentiated, although imperfectly, before the creation of the κόσμος by the δημιουργός: cf. Tim. 53A ff. The chiasmus in γῆς καὶ πυρός followed by πυρὶ καὶ γῇ is part of Protagoras' art.

5. ἐπειδὴ δ᾽ ἄγειν αὐτὰ πρὸς φῶς ἔμελλον. Cf. Rep. III. 414D ἐπειδὴ δὲ παντελῶς ἐξειργασμένοι ἦσαν καὶ γῆ αὐτοὺς μήτηρ οὖσα ἀνῆκε.

6. Προμηθεῖ καὶ Ἐπιμηθεῖ. In Gorg. 523D Prometheus again appears as the servant of Zeus, commissioned to put a stop to man's foreknowledge of his day of death: in Polit. 274C he is mentioned as the giver of fire to mortals. The Hesiodic and Aeschylean form of the legend, in which Prometheus steals the fire, does not appear in Plato, except at 321D nor is there any hint in his works of the story in Hesiod about the gift of Pandora —the source of human ills—to Epimetheus (Works and Days, 50 ff.), though it is worth noting that Plato like Hesiod makes the creation of woman posterior to that of man (Tim. 42B).

8. παραιτεῖταιαὐτὸς νεῖμαι. The object clause, as usual with verbs like παραιτεῖσθαι (deprecari), depends on the positive part of the verb (here αἰτεῖσθαι): see on Apol. 31B. αὐτός is ‘by himself’, without Prometheus' aid. We follow Cron and Turner in retaining the MSS. νείμαντος δέ μου as against Bekker's δ᾽ ἐμοῦ: the antithesis, as Cron remarks, is between the actions—νείμαντος and ἐπίσκεψαι. The point to be noticed is that Afterthought invites Forethought to exchange offices with him: it is Afterthought whose duty it is to inspect (ἐπισκέψασθαι: cf. Gorg. 526C δὲ Μίνως ἐπισκοπῶν κάθηται).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: